.- The Vatican released the contents of a telegram from Pope John Paul II offering his condolences over the Valentine’s Day assassination of former Prime Minster Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on behalf of the Pope, sent the letter to Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon.
The Holy Father said in the letter that, "Following the terrible attack which cost the life of Rafik Hariri, former president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Lebanon, as well as of numerous other people, the Holy Father greatly deplores this criminal gesture which offends God and men, created in His image and likeness.”
“While praying ardently for the beloved land of Lebanon”, the Pope said, “he implores once again God's mercy on the Middle East, which aspires to a just and lasting peace.”
The Pope invites all the Catholic faithful of Lebanon to a lasting commitment to peace and collaboration with all men of good will in order to build, through dialogue, a future of harmony in the country and among the peoples of the region."